7101.0 - Ag Mag - The Agriculture Newsletter, Dec 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 01/12/2010   
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One of the challenges of working at the Australian Bureau of Statistics is that there are so many things to count! This is especially true when it comes to collecting data about agriculture .... an industry increasingly characterised by its diversity. Ensuring that we cover everything of importance can be a real challenge, as the relative value of particular bits of data may change over time. As examples of this ... in times of drought there may be increased demand for information on water use and the impacts of adverse seasonal conditions. Also, changing markets may create demand for information on new and emerging commodities such as 'pink veal' and grain fed cattle. Being the statistical 'tragics' that we are, we are also always looking for ways to make the estimates we release better, sometimes resulting in changes to our methods and processes.

For all of those reasons, there will be times when the format and content of the publications and spreadsheets we release will change. In such situations, we do our best to ensure that you have sufficient advanced warning and that the impacts of any changes are fully described. A particularly useful source of information in this regard are the 'Changes in this Issue' sections, sometimes included on the Notes pages of our publications. These outline any changes that have occurred and give pointers on how to access further information. Another way that we flag changes is by way of 'I-Notes' on the ABS website. These appear as little information symbols attached to section headings and other content on the website that can be clicked on to access further information. Where more significant changes are planned, we may also send notification via email to people on the ABS Agriculture mailing list. You can subscribe to this list by sending an email to agriculture.statistics@abs.gov.au

So to ensure you remain informed, keep an eye out for the above the next time you use ABS data. In the meantime, below are some details of recent changes affecting some of our agriculture collections.

Image: Field of barley

The publication, Wheat Use and Stocks, Australia (cat. no. 7307.0), contains data of wheat grain stocks and use for selected manufacturing and agricultural businesses, licensed exporters and bulk grain handlers which is released monthly. Currently, this publication also includes quarterly estimates of stocks and use of barley and selected other grains and pulses. As a result of changing client needs and ongoing collection review, future issues will not include these data. In a little more detail .... changes were made to the September 2010 edition of this publication, which included data on stocks of barley and selected other grains and pulses only. Updated estimates of stocks of barley and selected other grains and pulses will be provided in the March 2011 edition of this publication. Data on use of barley and selected other grains and pulses will no longer be published. The publication of monthly data on wheat stocks, use and commitments will continue unchanged.

The Stocks of Grain Held by Bulk Handling Companies and Grain Traders, Australia (cat. no. 7122.0.55.001) publication is released monthly and will remain unchanged.

In other news, changes have recently been made to the collections that underpin the livestock slaughter and meat production estimates included in Livestock and Meat, Australia (cat. no. 7218.0.55.001) and Livestock Products, Australia (cat. no. 7215.0). Firstly, the small, stable component previously included in the estimates to account for the on-farm slaughter of livestock has been removed .... 'farm kill' now accounts for only a very small part of total slaughter and over time has proven increasingly more difficult to estimate accurately. Other changes have involved refinements to the weight-based definitions applied to calves and some pig categories. Further information about these changes can be found in the above-named publications.

An interesting fact
In medieval Europe, bread made from barley and rye was only thought fit to be food for the peasants, while wheat products were usually consumed by the upper classes. The earliest evidence of barley as a domestic grain dates back to around 8500 BC.